NNPN Festival Spotlight Part 3: Lia Romeo

Theater

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY MAY 3, 2019

Florida Studio Theatre teams up with the National New Play Network (NNPN) this year to host the NNPN Women in Playwriting Festival right here in Sarasota, inviting four women playwrights from around the country to bring their latest work for a series of staged readings from April 24 through May 10. The featured artists each receive a week of development sessions with FST, followed by the reading and a talkback session to receive feedback from the audience. In this four-part series, SRQ goes backstage with the playwrights.

A New Jersey-based playwright, Lia Romeo’s The Forest explores unconventional relationships, as a daughter amidst marital crises and a mother losing her memory (but finding something else in her caregiver) must come to terms with the reality of their circumstances and each other. To make matters weirder, a forest inexplicably begins growing through the living room floor. The reading will be tonight at FST.

What was your inspiration for The Forest? I'm often drawn to writing about inappropriate relationships—relationships that feel right to the people involved in them, but that are wrong in some way by society's standards. I'm still working out how the surreal elements and the realistic elements of the play interact with each other, and that's one of the things I want to focus on when I look at the play again as part of the festival.

Why are festivals like this important in this day and age? We're living in a moment where people are listening to women's voices more than ever before, which is really exciting. And to put those voices onstage—to literally give them a platform from which to be heard—is incredibly important.  

How can the theatrical community support women playwrights year-round? As a brand new parent, I'm realizing how important it is for theaters to provide childcare and support for artists with families. (Not that this is specifically a women's issue. It affects male artists just as much, or at least it should.)

How does playwriting give you a voice? I'm a shy person, but shy people still want to be heard—we just don't necessarily want to shout in order to do it. So playwriting is like this amazing shortcut—I can write down all my thoughts and hopes and fears, and then other people can say them, and I can sit in the back of a dark room and watch an audience listen and respond. It's my favorite thing.

Pictured: Lia Romeo.

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